Thursday, 3 May 2012

INTERVIEW: THOMAS WALSH [Pugwash/Duckworth Lewis Method]

Hello ... Hello ... my old friends ... It's great to see you once again! First an apology is due for the tardiness of the publishing of this, my epic interview with Thomas Walsh of that gentastic band Pugwash. This was my third attempt to transliterate and edit an interview carried out originally in January 2012.  My wholehearted thanx go out not only to Thomas but also Mark Burrows [for introducing me to the band] and Kath Lapington [for ably assisting me in transliterating the first half of the interview].

KJS: A big welcome to Mr. Thomas Walsh who has kindly agreed to this long distance interview for ‘ELO Beatles Forever’ ... but also known as ELOBF! 
TW: OK. This is a big “Hi!” to Mr. Keith James Sinclair and all the wonderful people of ELOBF or ELO Beatles Forever! Oh, that bloody song! This is Thomas Walsh from Pugwash and I’m going to answer some questions for Keith.
KJS: Thomas, thank you in advance for agreeing to answer these few questions for me. First things first! Pugwash is a great name for a band! Please tell us how Pugwash came to be and the reason for the fantastic band name?
TW: OK Keith. Well, Pugwash came to be back in the early to mid-nineties, when I started recording at home ... in the shed at the back garden of my parents’ house in Drimnagh, Co. Dublin. I just wanted to be Andy Partridge at the time, from XTC, because he recorded in a shed and, you know, I was a big fan of them. I’m still a big fan of them but obviously my first and greatest love is the band that I still love, first and foremost and above anyone else, and that is ELO. Obviously, you know, I didn’t know much about Jeff’s recording processes. And obviously, he’s kept a lot very private over the years, but it’s still the mystique about Jeff isn’t it that, you know, even snippets of demos are snippets, like a minute long. And we all dream of hearing the “Swiss Chalet” tapes and stuff like that! But at the time, it was wanting to record at home and then just wanting to demo songs, learn my craft and try and write good songs. I wanted to start doing that better and better and better because I was recording three, four or five songs a day sometimes. Four of them would be s**t but one of them might be alright! So I ended up doing two to three hundred songs in the shed over a period of a year or two, maybe a little less. I just kind of learned a little bit about how to write and how to maybe double track with [the kit I had] which is the size of a cabinet now, but you know compared to some of the stuff that was out there, it was kind of what it was. And then the name: simply that I always wanted to be a band but I never wanted a band because bands were a pain in the bum, as they say, and you just couldn’t get the right people. I had some great people around me at the time, just friends, and that but they were always off doing other things. So I just wanted to do it on my own and I thought I could just earn a living out of sitting at home and writing songs. But obviously you can’t! But I played the demos to some friends, some very good friends who I still work with to this day - Keith Farrell and Stephen Farrell – the brothers. They said that they we’re brilliant and that I should record them a bit more professionally. So I did them up at the Glebe House in Dublin in about ’95 or ’96. I sent them one of our songs that were on the first album. I became a better songwriter and the demos became a bit more elaborate. So what happened was then I met Kim Fowley, the Svengali, famous American supremo producer. He lived in Ireland for a while. I learned a lot from Kim. I love Kim. A lot of people don’t. But, you know, there are people that don’t really understand the fact that he is a bulls*****r and that’s why you’ve got to love him because he has got through life recording with some of the greatest acts of all time and finding some of the greatest acts of all time, by bullsh*****g. You’ve got to admire that! But he’s extremely talented as well. I will blab on Keith, as you can hear, so God bless you editing or writing all of this! So, what happened then was he got me a job with Andy White, who was a Belfast song writer, and I did some touring with Andy. I learned a lot from Andy too and did some studio work that I hadn’t really been privy to before ... a lot of studio work on a Cooking Vinyl release by Andy White called “Teenage”. If you want to track that down, I’m on that. It was the first record that I’m on and so, anyway, that was it. What happened then was that Hot Press heard my demo and voted me “Hot Press Album” or “Demo of the Year” back in ’97 or so. Through that I got a support slot with some friends of mine, a band called Lir. They brought along a record company guy from Velo Records – who was Michael O’Shea – and still a great friend of mine. Michael just thought I was great and he just gave me a few bob to record a first album, and it was a few bob! It was a pittance really but we had great friends around us, we made “Almond Tea” and that was pretty much how that happened! The name Pugwash stuck because I’d gone through a few silly names before then. I remember Belch being one of them but I found out later that Bev Bevan had a covers band called Belch. I didn’t know that but that was definitely one of the terrible names! The Pepper Circle was another one that was particularly bad! Honestly, Pugwash - Captain Pugwash - I looked like him and so I wrote down the chubby P’s and G’s and W’s - it’s a chubby name for a chubby man and it just stuck! So I’d better shut up anyway, it’s only the second question!
KJS: Pugwash are your good self, Tosh Flood, Shaun McGee and Joey Fitzgerald. Can you tell me about the band members, their roles and personalities?
TW: Well absolutely! Tosh Flood is, I don’t mean to say “right hand man” in a derogatory way, because a lot of people say: “Oh, he’s my right hand man ...” and never go into why these people are “right hand men”, but ... he’s absolutely on the same wavelength as me because his knowledge of music is second to none and his own talent top notch. I mean he’s a worthy song writer of any ilk, really. He has written some great songs for his band Saville – who released three albums in Ireland in the late nineties and 2000 - and I’m very honoured to be working with Tosh. He’s just a great guy as well, such a super talented kind of visionary really, and when we’re playing my songs he seems to know the wavelength I’m on! It’s a jump start on anyone else really. It’s that good you know! So Tosh’s work on “The Olympus Sound” cannot be underestimated and that’s why it had to be a co-produced album, because I’ve had assisted production work on all my other stuff and I’ve produced The Duckworth Lewis Method with Neil Hannon but this was completely me and Tosh producing this album from the start. So, you know his role is big and his personality second to none as well He’s a great guy, a very funny guy. I mean we get on great!
Shaun is next. Shaun McGee is there longer than everyone really. I’ve worked with Shaun since the nineties and you won’t find someone who has a voice as good as Gene Clarke or David Crosby and can play bass like Paul McCartney. Shaun writes incredible songs as well but he’s not as forward in bringing them out to the public. He just likes to have those as personal things and you’ve got to respect that. But you know, there’s some stuff on YouTube with Shaun involved - people can check that out, The Dynamo Hymn being one of them but, clearly he’s just a super talent! I’m always honoured to play on stage with Shaun and to have him up there. You know, as I said, he sang the vocals on “It’s Nice to Be Nice” and he’s been there through a lot of Pugwash albums playing bass on “Almanac” and other bits and pieces. He’s always been there vocally for me and his vocal blend is second to none as well. So, Shaun is a hugely important part of any band and I’m just very proud that it’s mine!
And then there’s Joey Fitzgerald who, you know, it’s almost like again, without sounding slightly derogatory, he’s just the glue that will hold it all together because he’s such an ‘on it’ drummer. I never have to worry about Joey. I’ve been on stage with the best drummers in the world to be honest with you. Some incredible drummers and you still sometimes worry that it could be too loud or they could just go off on one. But Joey is just so ‘on it’. I mean, and again it’s never derogatory, people always say he’s a very ‘Ringo’ drummer and think that it is kind of a put down, but it couldn’t be any more of a compliment. He’s an incredibly melodic drummer and again you know, he plays a lot of tracks - 80% of Pugwash tracks live now - or with backing tracks, so he makes it sound like an absolute natural drumming gig. It’s a pity he can’t be a bit more free-form but he’s got so good with the ‘click’ tracks you know - he shouldn’t - he should actually play a bit more s**t because we’d probably give him every track or backing track because he’s so good. He makes the gigs flow you know. He’s also incredibly good behind the scenes with me. I do a lot of the Pugwash nitty gritty stuff with Joey now. It’s usually important that I have somebody like that in the band and it’s relieving a lot of the stress off me when it comes to the basic stuff like gigs, correspondence, helping out with emails and all that. So he’s essential. They’re all essential and I love them all you know, idiots that they are! 
KJS: You are especially influenced by and well-known for your love of the musical works of one Jeff Lynne and the Electric Light Orchestra. What is it about Jeff and ELO that grabbed your attention, musically?
TW: Now Keith ... How many questions have you got left, hold on, let me see, goodness me! And this is only question three! I heard ELO when I was about six back in about 1975. It’s incredible when you’re six years old [that] things can have an effect on you the way they do, but they did. I just thought this was music from the Gods, it’s kind of funny. I kind of found The Beatles are in your soul because everyone was playing The Beatles and listening to The Beatles. All my family and people around the family would have been listening to them when I was in the womb so I was obviously getting The Beatles in there so you were getting The Beatles then early then in your life - but you can’t remember. But then, when you start to remember, I got ELO and its brilliant to find The Beatles through ELO really because I never got the whole massive, you know, connection. Of course, I know there’s a connection because you just know there is melody. As McCartney once said: “Any person who writes anything with melodic content will get compared to The Beatles.” You know again it’s just a cheap journalistic cop out really but ELO are so different in so many ways to The Beatles and that’s why I’ve got such affection for them and The Beatles. They are two separates but they are two incredibly important entities for me. But with ELO it’s just ... I mean the guys were so cool ... Jeff Lynne was so cool ... the band were so cool and when [Jeff] sang, it absolutely burst your soul. His voice would melt [me]! I‘ve always said that he’s the only man I’d probably sleep with because his voice is so good! If he sang to me I’d probably collapse. He just has a voice of milk and honey. He’s just ... I absolutely idolize his voice ... and of course he can write a good song [too]! I think maybe I’m getting goose pimples thinking about the songs [that] he’s written! But then, of course, I found The Idle Race and I nearly s**t myself because [back then] it was a slightly rougher, psychedelic Jeff ... and that’s even more appealing to me. He has given so much to me. You know all this [fuss] about when his new stuff is coming out ... when he is going to do something? Of course, we would want Jeff Lynne to release an album every five f*****g minutes because we want to hear his voice, we want to hear his songs, we want to hear those chord changes, we want to hear his production, we want to hear everything because we idolize the man. But to [criticize] him about not bringing out stuff regularly ... it’s just b******s. You can’t, for one thing, force the music anyway and secondly, he can do what he f*****g wants – he’s Jeff Lynne you know! He can come over here and kick me in the b******s if he wants because I’d accept it. So you know, I’ve got such a deep and incredible love [for ELO and Jeff Lynne] that I’ve often put myself out of contention with things in Ireland with the TV shows and radio [as] I don’t hit the ‘cool’ barometer with certain people because I never shut up about ELO! And the great thing about that is that it makes me even more cool in my head because I know they’re all [so-called experts] and they don’t know what they’re talking about! And I know that I’m right and I know what I’m saying is right. In the end, what happens is someone like James Dean Bradfield from Manic Street Preachers will start talking regularly about Jeff Lynne and his love of ELO and people will start going: “Ooooh, they’re a guilty pleasure” There’s nothing worse in the world for me. I hate the term “guilty pleasure” because it’s basically said [because] someone hasn’t even got the bravery to say that they love a band for what they do. I mean, if someone says,: “Oh, The Dooleys are a guilty pleasure”, that’s b******s as well because if you like “Wanted” by The Dooleys – you like it! There’s no reason to put it under an umbrella of “a guilty pleasure”. I mean, if you like something, you like it. You can’t feel guilty about something that gives you pleasure. It makes no f*****g sense! It’s a complete and utter oxymoron – if I’m using the right term. So, I hate that term. It was invented by a guy that wanted ... to sell records and he did. He sold loads of them but ELO have never been a “guilty pleasure” for me. They have been a very top of a mountain, screaming, banners, flags love [of mine] and there, I will forever keep saying it, and forever never be embarrassed by anything that they have done, including “Doin' that Crazy Thing” and “Drum Dreams”! 
KJS: A certain gentleman who shall remain nameless - Mark Burrows - mentioned to me recently that you had a surprise letter from LA recently from your musical hero. What was it like to correspond with Jeff and can you reveal any of the content of that letter?
TW: Funnily enough Keith, the letter is sitting right beside me here because I have it in a frame on my 1967 Dansette and, you know, I’m not being wacky here but it’s such a beautiful thing. I mean anyone can look at it and when other people who know me come in and touch it, or touch the glass anyway, they won’t touch the letter because I’d f*****g kill them! But they can touch the glass and they can hold it and they can read it, but ... to put it out on the internet verbatim, I just don’t want to do that as it’s just such a beautiful, personal thing to me. Obviously I can read you a bit of it ... he starts off [by saying] that first of all I’d like you to know I’m a big fan of yours ... I’ve known about Pugwash for a few years now and I’ve always admired your lovely vocal sounds and super double tracking. Now, when I read that there was p*ss flowing down my leg with complete fright and I froze! I didn’t quite get ... what was going on. I [then] see Jeff’s famous squiggly signature at the bottom. He goes on to say such beautiful things and I couldn’t begin, I still can’t even begin to, appreciate so much what he did. I mean, he stood in the queue in LA and posted that letter himself I suppose ... he posted it all himself as well ... it still kind of blows your mind because ... I’d be able to meet Jeff Lynne and talk to him and shake his hand, you know, and we’d have a great time. But ... when it’s at the stage where he sends a letter, it’s still the Jeff that made me get goose pimples when I was like eight years old [and] buying “Mr. Blue Sky” ... or you know when I went with whatever money I could get to buy “The Diary of Horace Wimp” on picture sleeve. Because if I’d seen it in the shop and it hadn’t got a picture sleeve ... I wouldn’t buy it but I desperately wanted the single so I had to go home or go to another shop on my bike and buy it on a picture sleeve! I used to be at the shops where they’d have it on display in the picture sleeve and then they’d give you the f*****g white sleeve version and I’d just stand there as an eight or nine year old saying: “Don’t do that. I want that one!” Maybe there was a reason they’d hold onto the picture sleeves, but you know, I wouldn’t walk out the shop until they [gave it to me]! Even then ... they used to put the price stickers on them and I’d shout at them: “Why you putting the stickers on? They’re going to leave marks on the sleeve!”. I’d be freaking out ... I haven’t changed one bit you know ... actually I’ve got worse as I’ve got older! But when I think of what I’ve done for that man ... [and] ... what he’s given me ... where I’ve gone and where he’s brought me in my life ... and the way he made me feel! When you’d be sitting in your house when you were in the seventies and that song would come on the radio ... you’d just hug the radio, just to hear it! That somebody did that for me! You’d always have an incredible affection ... for him to send that letter and say what he did ... it still blows me away. I know he’s a genuine fan now. He’s a genuine, genuine fan and it’s thanks to Roger Spencer as well, who I’ve got to know really well, Roger is such a beautiful guy and a great friend of Jeff. He was really instrumental in making sure that Jeff heard my stuff, even though it had been given to him by a couple of different people. I got various stories back that he had listened to it ... which is very nice and it actually made me very excited. But ... when Roger said it and when he got in touch and said Jeff listened to it, [it] was, you know, something very special! So, you know, all I can say is that it’s one of my most prized possessions, if not the most prized possession I have, and I love it and thanks Jeff! 
KJS: Did you ever get to hear ELO Part II or The Orchestra playing live and, if so, what were your thoughts on them?
TW: I’ve never been a fan of ELO Part II or The Orchestra. I love Kelly and I love Mik and I love Louis. Obviously, I’ve nothing against Eric Troyer or Phil Bates and all those people because they’re all wonderful musicians ... really incredibly talented people but ... it’s wrong. It’s not wrong to go and play the music but it was definitely wrong to go ELO Part II ... that really p****d me off and I wrote a letter to the FTM Fanzine back in 1989. Rob [Caiger] still has the letter I wrote. It was ridiculously long, a rant about why was he putting ELO Part II all over the cover of the fanzines. I was totally against it. I made a point at the time that ... I was seeing a lot of posters that had ELO up, instead of ELO Part II, and the band’s response to that at the time, Bev’s response was: “Well, it’s not our fault if people don’t put the Part II up ... You can’t blame us for that ... We just want to play music ... go out there and play to people.” When he said that, I thought that it was a fair point. I love Bev of course but ... when I was ranting back in the day ... if you just want to play music, call yourself Bill’s Whistling Pigeons and just go out and play the music! Because if you just want to play music then you can play it under any guise to anybody but the basic bottom line was that they wanted to play music to many thousands of people and you know get that buzz back of the seventies ... they wanted that buzz. If they’d been more honest, I would have had a bit more respect for the whole thing but [when] they said they just wanted to play music and it was b******t because they wanted to play big arenas, make a few bob and do their thing. But you know ... it’s a sin ... you can’t have ELO without Jeff Lynne. It’s a f*****g sacrilege. I never liked it and I never got a buzz from it but I respect the musicianship and I respect some of the great gigs they must have done with orchestras ... but ... it absolutely doesn’t appeal to me whatsoever. So I’ve never been a huge fan. I had a bit of correspondence with Parthenon Huxley as well, he was a big kind of 'Power Pop' [guy] and I was classed as ‘Power Pop’ too in America [which also p****s me off because I hate the term]. ‘Power Pop’ was any idiot with a Rickenbacker thinks he can make a jangle sound ... but they don’t have any songs. But Parthenon Huxley is a very talented guy, he’s written some great songs and it must have been a dream job to get for him to do that ... I’d have obviously thought about it if I was ever offered something like that. But being honest with you, it just doesn’t appeal to me. When Jeff came back with the “Zoom” CD, the mini “Zoom” tour or whatever it was .... it just blew all the others out of the water because there he was! So there is no underestimating what these people have done in the ELO story, some of those people, especially Louis Clark and Mik and definitely Kelly. But it just wasn’t right for me. That’s my honest opinion on that.
KJS: Over on YouTube - there are not a few clips of you, Neil and the band covering ELO [and Move] songs. I’ve seen and heard great versions of “Mr. Blue Sky”, “Telephone Line” and “Chinatown” for example. It sounds like a perfect fit hearing your interpretations of those classic Lynne-penned songs - what’s it like performing them?
TW: Well, funnily enough I did “Chinatown”. I live in a kind of a flat, an old house with the flats around. They’ve all got thin floors and thin walls. I’d be here at three in the morning [as I am now] listening to music on the headphones or if I’m writing, I’m writing very quietly. I just memorise the melody on a little ‘Dictaphone’ and I memorize it so I’m not here screaming out songs because it’s not really fair to people around. I don’t feel comfortable with it either, so, when I do something like “Chinatown”, I have to sing it like as in [quietly] ... so I’m kind of obviously not singing it. We’ve done it live a couple of times over the years and I can certainly belt it out and totally nail that song. It’s a genius song but the clip I put on YouTube, people seemed to like and, of course, the song is in my blood. I mean - any ELO, Move, Idle Race, Roy Wood, Jeff Lynne song is in my DNA so I don’t even have to. I mean, had to look up the lyrics to “Chinatown” because I’ve sung that song with my own lyrics for thirty f*****g years so ... I’d be making up anything! You know just your own lyrics over the years, but when I read the lyrics I was blown away. It gives you another buzz, another aspect to what their genius is like. I get a massive buzz but I also get very wary of the fact that I’m doing songs that you know had eighty piece orchestras and choirs and stuff on them. I don’t like to ... I very rarely do a lot of different ELO stuff in ... gigs because I only settle for the best and even listening to the best. Of course ELO are the best and when I hear a song, an ELO song back in my head, and I’m singing it with the lads ... we’re just doing a guitar, drums and bass version of the song and it’s not doing it for me, I get f*****g annoyed! I’ve very much got a strong production head on me when I’m playing ELO songs so I don’t really play a lot of them. But when I need to, I can because they’re in my blood, so I do always love playing them.
KJS: I reviewed your latest album entitled “The Olympus Sound” on ELOBF recently and remain highly impressed by it [as well as its predecessors “Eleven Modern Antiquities” and “Jollity” by the way!]. Thomas, what are the themes and inspirations for the twelve songs that make up “The Olympus Sound”?
TW: Well, it’s pretty much six and six ... before I went into hospital, I was drinking and doing drugs and doing all kinds of s**t. Then afterwards, when I came out, my life changed. I stopped drinking and doing anything so I’ve obviously changed my life. I’ve lost some weight which has helped obviously, but I’m still hardly “twiggy” as they say! I’m obviously six stone lighter than I was. I don’t drink anymore. I didn’t do a lot of drugs but I did enough drugs so there’s none of that anymore and I don’t smoke. I never did smoke cigarettes and stuff. I’ve changed a lot of things about my life. During that album, I’d written a stash of songs leading up to that time. I went into hospital for a while to recover and when I came out, I wrote a whole set of other songs. You can, if you listen to the album, hear themes of upbeat songs ... looking for the answer, things are going to get better ... sort of thing. They are the ones I pretty much wrote when I came out of hospital and some of the darker ones are the ... ones that were written before. So the inspiration has always been, you know, something personal to me but themes and inspirations are personal and I don’t really go into them. Once they’re there, I love the process when it’s done but I’m not really a fan of the process going through it because I always think ... I actually don’t think I can write a song. Sometimes I write a song. I sometimes pick a guitar up and go: “How do I even write one song in my f*****g life?” but then I ... have to remember that I am ... a little bit respected and I have done some quality stuff, a little bit ... and I do look at my Jeff letter too! I sometimes pick my guitar up and don’t even know how to play ‘A’ minor! ... so that is why eight months of the year I probably wouldn’t be able to do anything or even pick up a guitar cause. I wouldn’t be interested ... and then all of a sudden I vomit out in a big spew of ... ideas. I put them all down on ‘Dictaphone’ and I end up with a couple of hundred little snippets and then I get back and I put them all together ... the ones that have any kind of merit and stuff. So that is normally how I approach an album and the theme is, as I said, personal. The inspiration is to make and write a hummable tune and something that people can remember. I think with this record we’ve stuck a few in there ... I always try and put as many as I can in ... I’m not one of these people who lets an album wane when it gets to six or seven tracks. I’d rather let an album tarry than wane.
KJS: You have a growing collection of followers both on-line and in person! How important are those fans to you?
TW: Well you know I and we barely if at all make a living so it makes these people who are fans and followers and buyers even more special in our lives because we can just about still do it because of them, you know they start coming along in their hundreds and thousands, we can all start you know, possibly buying places to live and you know, having some kind of comfort in our lives which would be wonderful, then having to take toilet roll out, taking venues when you’ve got none and, you know, going to Tesco at four in the morning to get the cheap stuff that has been marked down. So you know we have very tight budgets ... we have just enough of a fan base which is affectionate, loving and considerate. A very dedicated fan base that are there for us and we love them. They are hugely important because we wouldn’t be able to make another record without them. So, thank you all! 
KJS: You have a strong personal and musical association with another well-known ELO-loving Irish musician - Neil Hannon of The Divine Comedy – who often joins the band on stage. But how did this friendship come about?
TW: Well, basically, I was asked to do because Saville - Tosh and Joe’s old band – they couldn’t do this gig that they were asked to do for Graham Linehan’s wedding – who wrote “Father Ted” with Arthur Mathews. We were always doing covers gigs with Saville at the time and they just said to me that I should do the gig because they couldn’t. I had spoke to Ken Sweeney - who was also in “Father Ted” a lot and was the Best Man for Graham - and Ken really liked Pugwash anyway so he was delighted and so to cut a very long story short, we did Graham’s wedding. Everyone was there ... Chris Morris, Simon Pegg, Jonathan Ross, David Walliams, Matt Lucas, Kevin Eldon ... all these incredible people, comedians and actors that I idolize. And we went down a bomb! They loved us and that night, obviously, Neil was there as he wrote “Songs Of Love” - which was the “Father Ted” theme. He also wrote a lot of stuff for Arthur and Graham for the show and he is a good friend of theirs. And he came up to me and asked if he could use my guitar to sing “Songs Of Love” for Graham and Helen. Someone snapped a picture of him asking me for the guitar and I have that – it’s pretty cool! And that was the start of a great friendship – working and personal. That was it. We didn’t gel there that day at all, that night. He went off and I didn’t speak to him or about a year or more. But what happened was that when I knew he’d moved to Dublin, Graham inadvertently sent me Neil’s email address in an attachment. At the time I was doing a Christmas charity single for the Irish Epilepsy Association: “Brainwave” and I said it would great to get Neil Hannon on this record as it would help the sales and it would be nice to get him in the studio. He wonderfully said yes and he was fantastic in the studio and did some wonderful work on the song. While we were there, we both listened to the cricket on the radio, which was on at the same time. I didn’t think he would be into cricket and he didn’t think I’d be into cricket! We both said to each other: “This is weird ... we’re both big ELO fans and we’re both big cricket fans!” We got on really well and that was it! We just kind of started writing together and had great fun. Next of all we had Duckworth Lewis Method really!
KJS: You gained an Ivor Novello Award nomination for your debut album with Neil Hannon “The Duckworth Lewis Method” last year. I remember your interview on BBC News back in 2009. Your love of the game of cricket does indeed shine through this recording; but what were your hopes and ambitions for the project?
TW: The hopes were that we could actually write twelve songs ourselves for album because when we wrote three or four, they were brilliant and we were delighted with and very excited about them. I heard the story about Jeff and Roy bringing cassette copies of “10538 Overture” on the road with them when The Move were still playing or on early ELO gigs obviously - they were probably Move gigs actually! – and they were just playing and playing it to people and they got really p****d off with hearing cassette roughs. And I love that because that’s the excitement ... that’s the great side of music when you’re writing and you do something like that and you say to yourself: “This is f*****g great!” You get excited by it and we got excited by the few tracks we’d done. I think we’d recorded “Age of Revolution”, “Gentlemen and Players” and maybe “Test Match Special”. Those three or four demos we did early on were pretty cool, really cool. I loved the demo of “Gentleman and Players” as much as the [album] song. We just started playing the demos to everyone and it gave us a great buzz so we said to ourselves that we should record another three and have an EP. So when he had six, we then said to ourselves that we already had half an album. Then when we had done nine, ten and eleven songs and we said that we needed one more. I had this rough, silly little melody ... it was kind of like a Ringo “Yellow Submarine” track which ended up as “Meeting Mr. Miandad”! The thing was that it was the hardest one to write ... we just about had an album with eleven tracks but we did want to finish one more. It ended up being a really big song for us, a great little song. We watched more cricket during that song than we did during the whole album! We sat over at Neil’s house watching some cricket on HD at the time and we had great fun! And it ended up being a great little song. Our aim was that people would not just think it was a cricket record. Why people got freaked out by it was because the general public don’t understand cricket! They were saying to us: “How can this be good? Cricket is s**t! ... We hate cricket ... five days long ... Is the album five days long?” All these f*****g stupid comments. I’ve said this before and I don’t want folks to think that this is a comparison but I’ll always remember McCartney saying that people thought that ‘The Beatles’ had lost it because they hadn’t said in four months that they had [Sgt.] Pepper ready to go and he kept saying: “Just wait and see!”. Of course I’m not comparing anything but we did have that little buzz just saying to people: “Just wait and see!” We really had a bit of fun with ourselves going around when people were saying to us: “This is going to be s***t!” or “This is the most embarrassing thing!”. Even people who knew Neil probably thought that he’d lost it because he’d done an album with a rotund catholic man, being a protestant, about cricket! They might have thought that he’d lost his marbles or was having a mid-life crisis! But, you know, it’s a very special record and it did brilliant. And, yes, having an Ivor Novello nomination was one of the great days of my life! I’ll always be proud of that.
KJS:Will there be a continuation of DLM and your partnership with Neil Hannon in yet future days?
TW: Yes, I can officially announce the possibility of maybe ... No, the truth is that in 2012 we are going to attempt to write a DLM II and if it’s s**t, we won’t record it so there won’t be a DLM II! Neil is doing a mini opera for the BBC and he’s also doing “Swallows and Amazons” in the West End and so forth but he’s really looking forward to having some fun and getting in with myself and writing some stuff – whilst having a bit of a laugh, because he has done a lot of ‘serious’ work doing the various projects he’s on but it’s nowhere near as much fun as doing a Duckworth Lewis Method record! I’m really excited at the prospect of writing it and I’m almost apprehensive about the fact that we do have this very cultish but respected and much loved album before us and people keep telling us that there’s no way we can do another cricket themed and maybe we won’t ... but it’s like waving a red rag to a bull to us because it’s more than likely we will write a cricket themed one. But I think, in all honesty, that – and it is a bit of a coup for yourself at ELOBF – we are seriously thinking of getting in contact with Jeff to maybe play or sing on one track because he was a fan of the cricket record – he said that in the letter – and because the concept of the DLM is our love of ELO and cricket. We did a full-on cricket alum with the first one so if we do attempt a second one, the big coup could be we have the ELO ‘main man’ involved! This is all in our heads by the way, nothing has been done, nothing has been asked, no-one has even been considered but it’s just a little tiny nugget of fun for me and Neil. It is a possibility because of the letter that Jeff sent and because we have some contacts there. You never know – an Ivor Novello nominated threesome – it could be a big ‘ol album! If I had Jeff on a song I’d written or co-written and he was in the studio there, I’d quite possibly have to have twenty-four hour medics on hand to resuscitate me every time he opened his mouth because I’d be in an awful state! I think that I’d have to just film him and keep asking for his autograph! But it is a possibility ... it’s a little dream for us at the moment and, yes, we will attempt a second DLM album Keith.
KJS: Returning to “The Olympus Sound”, do you have a personal favourite song on the album and, if yes, why?
TW: I do really like “See You Mine” because it doesn’t really make a lot of sense but it’s very bouncy and melodic and it does a lot of great things that I like in music which is key changes and maybe tempo changes ... it’s got its drop down bits, bouncy bits and I like the lyrics too. So “See You Mine” would probably be my favourite but also “To The Warmth Of You” and I’m very proud of with “There You Are” being one chord, pretty much. I’ve learned over the years. For songs I would have written, there would have been twenty five chords in the song and would have gone around three times but now there is nothing like the buzz of getting load of melodies out of one chord! I’m very proud that “15 Kilocycle Tone” as well has one chord and there’s a lot of melody in there too. But that’s extremely ‘Beatlified’! But “There You Are” has something that most bands don’t have that I’m also very proud of ... a strong melody content for one chord and a nice bit of Korg, Moogy or another synth [that I can’t remember the name of] but Neil had a go on! That’s the genius of having someone as brilliant as Neil in the studio - as well as having Tosh, Joey and Shaun. That’s always a plus for me. So I’ll say that “See You Mine”; “To The Warmth Of You” and “There You Are” are my faves.
KJS: What’s next for Thomas Walsh and ‘Pugwash’ in 2012 and beyond? Will we see ‘Pugwash’ touring in the UK and Ireland [or beyond] in 2012?
TW: Well the big news for us is that we signed a deal with LoJinx, which is a wonderful label in London, with Andrew Campbell and Amy his wife. They’ve released ‘Fountains of Wayne’; David Myhr, Tracey Bonham; ‘The Wellingtons’ and ‘Bleu’ [which is a kind of ELO tribute album]. So we’re very proud to be on that label. And they are releasing “The Olympus Sound” on vinyl which is hugely and absolutely exciting. I mean that if Jeff Lynne himself was to present me with my first copy of it on vinyl, I think I would die! We can’t wait to see the album on vinyl ... it’s going to be a very proud moment. I think the album is being released on Monday 16th April 2012. The CD will have three extra tracks in “Heal Me” - which was the B-side of the “Answers On A Postcard” vinyl single; “Happy Again” – which was the B-side of the “Fall Down” vinyl single – and a track called “Waltz With Me” which we completely recorded for the album and were going to close it. But it ended up that we only took a tiny bit that Simon used as the Coda on the end of “See You Mine”. It’s a five and a half minute big, huge song that I just didn’t nail – everyone else did great work on it – a song that I just didn’t think worked during the original sessions. We’re going to go back in and mix it his weekend. It’s actually one of my most Jeff sounding tracks, it’s got all the right connotations. For the first time I will admit that I did take the idea of “I wish I was in the land of Dixie” from ELO’s “Down Home Town” for the finale, for the end bit. I always loved that idea. It’s a production technique that I’ve always wanted to use. On this track it seemed to work. It is a very Jeff track ... I’ve got to say it. You’ll be interested to hear that one when we do it! And that’s the appeal for people to buy the expanded CD from LoJinx because it’s going to have this song that’s totally unreleased. And touring ... we’re literally talking to agents in the UK and a gig around St. Patrick’s Day in London, maybe The Borderline, everything will be up on our web site, Facebook and the LoJinx web site as soon as we know. It’s very exciting. My back catalogue will also be coming out in Japan in July, from the Summer onwards. We’re very proud that’s going to happen too. That’s all happening in 2012 folks!
KJS: Now a question that I ask every interviewee here on ELOBF: What are your absolute favourite songs of Jeff Lynne, ELO, The Beatles and [naturally] The Move?
TW: I’m going to do what I normally do just today ... I continually play “21st Century Man” because that chorus “Though you ride on the wheels of tomorrow” absolutely melts my f*****g heart ... that chorus from “21st Century Man” is up there with some of the greatest melodies ever written in the history of the world of pop. It blows my mind, it’s so good it’s just phenomenal! It’s probably one of my absolute favourite Jeff Lynne songs. That covers ELO. ‘The Beatles’ ... where do you start? It’s the same kind of thing ... but today I’d probably say ... I’ve actually been listening to an instrumental mix of “Abbey Road” lately, the whole album without the vocals, someone has done an incredible job of dubbing the vocals out. It’s phenomenal. If you listen to “Something” without the vocals, you listen to the arrangements on that song and you just melt! So today I’d say it’s the instrumental version of “Something” or let’s just say “Something” by ‘The Beatles’! And ‘The Move’ ... I’ve been definitely been playing early Move of late. I’ve just got a “Curly” picture sleeve from France! I love “Curly” ... “Wild Tiger Woman” – I’ve just done a video for that where I’ve edited some YouTube footage together so it works as a whole video. I’ll also stump up “Omnibus” for today because it’s just so melodically brilliant and then there’s “Useless Information” ... I’ll go with that!
KJS: Finally, with two [2] bands on the go, there must be multiple ways for folks to get a hold of your music and catch up with what you guys are up to. How can folks keep in touch; purchase and/or download your music?
TW: The album “The Olympus Sound” was taken off from iTunes because of the deal with LoJinx but that will be going [back] up in the next six to eight weeks on iTunes. You’ll also be able to buy the expanded CD from LoJinx in April with maybe pre-orders in March. You’ll also be able to buy the vinyl of “The Olympus Sound” in March through LoJinx. You’ll also be able to buy it at various and expanded outlets throughout the UK and Europe. You’ll also be able to buy all my catalogue from Japan towards the end of the year. I’ll get some on import and will sell them through our web site, which is www.pugwashtheband.com ... I’m also up on Facebook and Twitter as @ThomasWalsh1 [not @Thomaspug – that was something I set up and can’t get rid of!] ... and if you’re still stuck; you can email me directly via the Pugwash web site!

Yours Truly KJS would like to take the opportunity to thank Thomas Walsh for participating in this interview. ELO Beatles Forever [ELOBF] recommends Pugwash and The Duckworth Lewis Method to those enlightened folks who also like ELO, Jeff Lynne, Roy Wood, The Idle Race, The Move, 'Brum Beat' and The Beatles and related artistes.

Until next "Time" in the ELO [and related] Universe ... KJS ... 03-May-2012

5 comments:

  1. Thank you Keith....such a great read and I was reading ME!! How sad but it made me laugh and think and get quite emotional. You got the best out of me anyway. Cheers again Keith - LONG LIVE ELO..!! Thomas.x

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  2. Great interview. Probably one of Thomas' best. He's obviously a nightowl......very fluent and jam packed with goodies. Best interview I've read with him actually. Well done Keith. MARK.

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  3. Fantastic read, nice one Keith and 'big it up' for Thomas!.

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  4. Thanks for sharing this interview.

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  5. Awesome Keith....BIG Thomas Walsh fan!

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